How often do you read book you love and realize that the author lives in your neighborhood? Well, it’s happened to me! Molly Birnbaum’s terrific and smart memoir Season to Taste, about losing her sense of smell after being struck by a car, entranced me this week. Turns out she lives here in Cambridge.
Towards the end of her four years at Brown, Molly realized that she loved food more than anything else and applied to the Culinary Institute of America. The, shortly before leaving for school, a car struck her while she crossed the street. Her descriptions of the accident made me feel the intensity of the situation and the pain she felt. It wasn’t until months later during recovery, that she realized she couldn’t smell anything.
I learned a lot this week about our sense of smell. For example, serious depression is a common occurrence in those who have lost their sense of smell and vice versa. And although being unable to smell greatly reduces the ability to taste, the basic tastes like sweetness and saltiness are still preserved. It’s fascinating stuff. After what I would call a mourning period, Molly begins to explore the science of olfaction. And she begins to smell again.
What I loved about Season to Taste is Molly’s attitude. She never seems to feel sorry for herself and this is no indulgent look-at-my-life-isn’t-it-so-interesting memoir that seem to come across my desk so often these days. Instead she highlights something traumatic that happened to her and details in her warm, compassionate voice her journey through it all.